Yesterday we were so fortunate to be invited to Jill and Sy’s for a cooking class. Nati and Mary, two Ecuadorian friends from the neighborhood, taught us how to make Empanadas Verde and Shrimp Ceviche. We arrive about 9:30. Audrey, Nati and Mary were already there starting the prep work. We sat down and began to help peel and devein 4 lbs of shrimp. On the stove they already had 18 green plantains boiling on the stove in water and salt. They had to boil about 45 minutes until soft. In the meantime, Mary was cutting up vegetables for the ceviche. She diced very small 1/2 green pepper and a whole red onion,a tomato and a fist full of cilantro which she set aside in bowls for later. She would later squeeze 10 small limes (called limons here).
While all this was going on, we sat around and talked. We were video taping and taking pictures, too. Later Joy and Harold came and then Sonya came a bit later. When the plantains were ready, Nati took two plantains out at a time to roll with a rolling pin. The two plantains would make 4 empanadas. I can’t tell you how long she rolled those plantains, but it took a lot of muscle and way too much time. I do not have the stamina for that at this stage in my life. We all did take a turn at rolling them.
Let’s face it, Nati did 99% of the work.
Leo grated the cheese that would go in it. Once Nati divided the “dough” into fourths, we all took a turn at rolling it out into a circle.
I never baked much, so I know no tricks for rolling out dough, so everyone probably knows this but me. I thought it was smart to roll the dough out between a large plastic baggie cut on the 2 sides, That way the dough does not stick to the rolling pin. They had an empanada press, so the rolled dough went in it, about a tablespoon of cheese was added,
the press was closed, pressed in the middle with the palm of your hand, the excess dough was scraped off the sides with your hands, open it and take out that perfectly made empanada (only if it passed Nati’s inspection).
About 10:30 the beer came out. We decided it was probably happy hour in London. Salute to London! Even Nati had some beer and she said she was happy, happy. After making all the empanadas, they fried them in oil on the stove a few at a time until they were brown and then flipped them over until it was browned again.
At first, the empanadas did not stay on the plate for two seconds. Jill passed them around, and we all ate at least two immediately. Oh, Lord, they were sooooooo good. We put ahi sauce (hot sauce) on them, too. Yum!
Then they made the Shrimp Ceviche. They filled a medium pot with water and boiled it. They added the shrimp and turned off the heat. Then they let the whole thing cool off to room temperature. Ten limes were squeezed into the pot, the vegetables (cilantro, onion and green pepper, tomato) were added. Salt was added until it tasted right.
Now it was time for lunch. Jill had previously set two beautiful tables for us. There were tropical colored bowls on a plate. The table cloths were an Ecuadorian print purchased at Montecristi. Everything looked so lovely. We sat down and ate that wonderful food. We love Ecuador and it was so much fun learning to cook the food we love. Many thanks to Nati and Mary for letting us experience Ecuador in a whole new way. Thanks to Jill and Sy for planning this wonderful get together. I marvel and give thanks for all these new experiences I am having here in Ecuador. Who knew I’d ever be in Ecuador, much less having the time of my life!